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Pixel 5 sees dramatically improved GPU performance after April patch

Pictures of Pixel 5.
Enlarge / Our Pixel 5 came in this funky green version.

Ron Amadeo

Nearly six months after the release of the Pixel 5, Google has updated the way the GPU works, bringing the phone up to the level you expect from a Snapdragon 765G phone. The April 2021

security update for Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a (5G) came with a note that said it includes “performance optimizations for certain graphics-intensive apps and games.” Practical testing reveals that the update apparently dramatically improves the Pixel 5 GPU, which reportedly shows performance gains of up to 50 percent in some apps and benchmarks.

We do not have a Pixel 5 ready to test, but Andreas Proschofsky from Der Standard tipped the Internet that he sees “30-50 percent better” performance in 3DMark after the update. Andrei Frumusanu of Anandtech confirmed that “performance has essentially doubled from the published scores [in Anandtech’s review], and in line or better than other 765G phones, “adding that” the fact that it took 6 months is sad. “Hmm. Yes.

It may seem impossible to add 50 percent better performance from a simple software update, but Google just fixes the awful condition of the launch phone. There was simply so much room for improvement over other phones. As we reviewed the device, we called it “the world’s slowest Snapdragon 765G phone” and noticed that other Snapdragon 765G smartphones like the OnePlus Nord could wipe the floor with the device in head-to-head GPU benchmarks. It was not a good look for the Pixel 5, which was already facing a switch to hardware in the midrange, which meant it would be slower than the Pixel 4. Benchmarks allow us to put exact numbers on the changes, a trick of benchmarking the numbers reflected the real performance when it came to 3D gaming, which was terrible on the Pixel 5.

Google says the April 2021 security update also comes with camera quality enhancements for third-party apps, a solution to a problem that would cause startup freezing, and a solution to some missing settings on the home screen. The update needs to be rolled out now on Pixel phones – just mix the update button.

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